Today was a new hill climb organised by Watford Velo on Aston Hill in the Chilterns. It is about 1.3 miles long- gradual at the start, increasing in gradient to 15% near the top.
I often train in the Chilterns. There is a long ridge from Watlington in the West to Tring in the East, where there are innumerable climbs of about 1 mile long. I often use these climbs for training – Britwell Hill, Watlington Hill, A40 Hill (Confusingly called Aston hill too), Chinnor Hill, Bledlow Ridge, Whiteleaf, Kop Hill, Aston hill from Tring. Probably more, but you get the idea there are plenty of hills in this part of the world. I often start in the West and move along the ridge. I don’t often get as far as Tring, but I have done Aston Hill on a couple of occasions in the past few years.
Photo: Matt James, flickr
The hill climb season often involves quite a bit of travelling so it is nice to be able to do a local hill climb on roads that you actually train on.
It was beautiful early Autumn weather and a great day to be cycling. I felt a little guilty to be driving there, when I could have cycled the 50 miles roundtrip. But, it’s always good to treat each open like a big event, get used to using race wheel e.t.c. Testing your warm-up routine e.t.c.
The hill climb seemed quite relaxed, Watford Velo a club of 70-90 riders had an impressive turnout of 25 riders, making up about half the field. I felt a little out of place with supertight skinsuit, NOpinz pouch and every weight saving marginal gain on my wheels. I even still had my tribars left on bike from last weekend. I can’t say this was a scientific decision to leave on to gain aero advantage – more I never got round to taking off.
However, my professionalism and hill climb marginal gain efforts were deeply undermined by riding the hill climb with water bottle in. As mentioned in my ‘Ultimate Guide to Hill climb warmups’ Rule number 47 – is never do a hill climb with water bottle in – always remember to take it out.
Aston Hill is a little unusual, 1.3 miles. With fast start. There is even a little bit of downhill where I touched 31mph, then there is a gradual height gain before you turn left up to Aston Hill proper. Here the hill gets steeper straightaway. But, the gradient is variable. Near the top it reaches a max of 15%. Near the top, there was an excellent crowd of spectators for a local hill climb. There was a great roar as you hit the last 300m. I have done the hill in training, but is really very different to race on. I paced my effort quite conservatively. Averaging mid 350 watts for first half. In last half, there were bursts of 500watts for the steep bits. I may have ridden too conservatively in first half, but I had enough left for hardest bit.
My time was 5.03, which was good enough for first place.
Average power was 404 watts, which seemed a little low compared to training this week. But, I did recalibrate power meter on my rollers.
Thanks to Watford Velo, Cyclopeadia, Watford and all who came out to spectate.
I took some great photos, but left my memory card at home, so nothing to show for the day.
Watford Velo took this short video